Monday, May 16, 2011

Theodoret Confirms that Clement Knew the Carpocratians 'Imitated the Naked State of Adam'

I had never noticed this before but there certainly is a precedent for Theodore's original question regarding a ritual interest in nudity among the Carpocratians. It appears in Theodoret's Haereticarum Fabularum compendium. The reference comes just after his treatment of the Carpocratians. He makes specific reference to Clement of Alexandria's report about the Carpocratians and says the following:

Περὶ Προδίκου.

Πρόδικος δὲ, τοῦτον διαδεξάµενος, τὴν τῶν καλουµένων Ἀδαµιτῶν συνεστήσατο αἵρεσιν. Οὗτος προφανῶς λαγνεύειν τοῖς Καρποκράτους προστέθεικε δόγµασι. κοινὰς γὰρ εἶναι τὰς γυναῖκας ἐνοµοθέτησεν. Οὗ δὴ χάριν, οὐκ ἐν τοῖς κοινοῖς δεί πνοις µόνον, τὸ λυχνιαῖον φῶς ἐκποδὼν ποιούµενοι, ᾗπερ ἂν ἕκαστος ἐπέτυχε συνεµίγνυτο. ἀλλὰ δὴ καὶ τελετὴν τὴν τοιαύτην ἀκολασίαν ὑπειλήφεσαν µυ στικήν. Καὶ τούτου δὴ µάρτυρα τὸν Στρωµατέα παρέξοµαι Κλήµεντα, ἱερὸν ἄνδρα, καὶ πολυπειρίᾳ ἅπαντας ἀπολιπόντα. Λέγει δὲ οὕτως ἐν τῷ τρίτῳ τῶν Στρωµατέων· Εἰσὶ δὲ οἳ τὴν πάνδηµον Ἀφρο δίτην κοινωνίαν µυστικὴν ὀνοµάζουσιν, ἐνυβρίζοντες καὶ τῷ ὀνόµατι. Εἶτά τινα ὑπειπὼν κατὰ τῆς τού των συώδους ἀκολασίας, ἐπιφέρει καὶ ταῦτα. Οἱ γὰρ τρισάθλιοι τὴν σαρκικὴν καὶ τὴν συνουσιαστικὴν κοινωνίαν ἱεροφαντοῦσι, καὶ ταύτην οἴονται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοὺς ἀνάγειν τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Εἰς τὰ χαµαιτυπεῖα µὲν οὖν ἡ τοιάδε εἰσάγει κοινωνία, καὶ δὴ συµµέτοχοι εἶεν ἂν αὐτοῖς οἱ σύες καὶ οἱ τράγοι εἶεν δ' ἂν ἐν ταῖς µείζοσι παρ' αὐτοῖς ἐλπίσιν αἱ προεστῶσαι τοῦ τέγους πόρναι, ἀνέδην ἐκδε χόµεναι τοὺς βουλοµένους ἅπαντας. Προσθεὶς δὲ καὶ ἕτερα παραπλήσια, ἐπήγαγε Τοιαῦτα καὶ οἱ ἀπὸ Προδίκου ψευδωνύµως Γνωστικοὺς σφᾶς αὐτοὺς ἀναγορεύοντες δογµατίζουσιν.

Most of the reference is taken up by citing things that Clement said about the Carpocratians generally and applying it to Prodicus specifically. The most interesting statement appears in the very beginning which we can translate as:

Prodicus, a follower of Carpocrates, founded the heresy of the so-called Adamians. He added to the rules laid down by Carpocrates those of unbridled lechery. He sanctioned the communal possession of wives. For this reason not only at public banquets, with lights extinguished, did each mingle with the woman on whom he fell, but they performed such lecheries as a mystical ritual of initiation' {Haer. fab. I, 6).

Why are the Adamians so interesting with respect to the Letter of Theodore? The Adamians practiced ritual nudity as we learn from Epiphanius's preservation of a much earlier report:

The Adamians are named after Adam. They imitate the naked state which was his in paradise before the sin. In accord with this they are against marriage, because Adam did not have relations with his wife before he sinned or before he was dismissed from paradise. Hence, they believe that there would not have been marriages, if no one had sinned. Accordingly, men and women assemble naked; naked they listen to the readings; naked they pray; and naked they celebrate the sacraments. For this reason they regard their church as Paradise.

The people who promote the hoax hypothesis want to take the 'naked with naked' reference and turn it into an allusion to homosexuality even though this is absolutely untrue.  Clement merely makes reference to an original question from Theodore which inquires whether there is something to support ritual nudity in Secret Mark.

Many of the hoaxers have tried to construe this 'naked with naked' as a some sort of 'leading question' injected by Morton Smith into a false narrative.  Why would Theodore think that the Carpocratians took an interest in ritual nudity.  Yet now we can see the truth.  Theodoret certainly thought that Prodicus was a Carpocratian and that he developed an interest in regaining the innocence of Adam who certainly did not wear any clothes.  We have already determined that there certainly was an Alexandrian origin for Jerome's nudus nudum slogan.  Now we can even take that one step further.  Clement also makes reference to the followers of Prodicus claiming to possess 'secret books' - "〈καὶ〉 βίβλους ἀποκρύφους τἀνδρὸς τοῦδε οἱ τὴν Προδίκου μετιόντες αἵρεσιν αὐχοῦσι κεκτῆσθαι" (Strom. 1.15)

This is a very obscure reference which Smith doesn't even recognize in his 1973 study of to Theodore. It seems to confirm the authenticity of the discovery for it demonstrates that Theodoret knew Clement to have discussed 'naked with naked' and the other things in Secret Mark. It is such a pity we don't have more of Clement's writings available to us.

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